British Red Tractor Assurance is available on selected products.

Our high welfare British Veal is RSPCA Assured.


Ben Calwell


Vital Statistics Before Current
Age - 22
Weight 8st 13st
Body Fat - 8.5%

Meet Ben Calwell – one man who has not only worked hard for an incredible body, but also fought cancer and survived!

He caught the gym bug early, leaving school early and enrolling for a fitness instructing course. Things were going his way until shortly before his 19th birthday…

After feeling some swelling in his neck, he took a trip to the doctor. Being told he had cancer just didn’t sink in, as it wouldn’t for anybody faced with their own mortality.

It’s a terrifying moment, that took him weeks of painful chemotherapy to fight off. Luckily, he was pronounced clear of cancer at the beginning of 2013, returning to the gym at September.

After that, and another road bump in the form of Hypothyroid, he worked harder than he ever had – resulting in the incredible physique after one hell of a journey! We just had to speak to this inspirational guy.

Ben Calwell

Training Plan

  • Legs x2

    Legs 2 times per week

    • Squats – 4x10
    • Leg press – 4x10
    • Leg extension – 4x10
    • Hamstring curls – 4x10
    • Calf raises – 4x20
    • 10 mins high intensity stair master
  • Chest, Shoulder and Triceps x2

    Chest, shoulder and triceps 2 times per week

    • Incline dumbbell chest press – 4x10
    • Flat dumbbell chest press – 4x10
    • Chest fly machine – 4x15
    • Press ups 4xfailure
    • Arnie press – 4x10
    • Lateral raises – 4x10
    • Tricep dips 4xfailure
  • Back and Biceps x2

    Back and Biceps 2 times per week

    • Pullups – 4x10
    • Barbell bent over row – 4x10
    • Seated row – 4x10
    • TRX inverted row – 4xfailure
    • Bicep Matrix 21’s – 3 sets
    • Hammer curls 4x10
    • Treadmill sprints tabatta style
  • Rest Day

    Rest Day

    • Rest day once per week or 30 minutes low intensity fasted cardio on this day.

Meal Plan

  • Meal 1

    • 40g porridge oats, 100g mixed berries and 50g whey protein isolate
  • Meal 2

    • (Post workout shake) – 30g maltodextrin and 50g whey protein isolate
  • Meal 3

    • (post workout meal) – 125g cooked white rice and 125g chicken breast
  • Meal 4

    • 130g Salmon and loads of mixed vegetable (add some seasonings for flavour)
  • Meal 5

    • 150g Steak (visible fat trimmed) and loads of mixed vegetables (seasonings)
  • Meal 6

    • 3 eggs, 5 bacon medallions and 50g cottage cheese
  • Snacks

    • 50g beef jerky or biltong
  • Macros

    • Calories – 2060
    • Carbohydrates- 100g
    • Protein- 280g
    • Fats- 60g

Interview with Ben Calwell

Tell us about when you first got the gym bug?

I’ve always had a passion for sport and fitness but I didn’t develop a real passion for the gym until I turned 17, left school and decided to enrol for a fitness instructing course. My aim of doing this course was to better my own knowledge in the gym but it quickly this turned into a passion. I loved the gym and I trained every day.

How did it make you feel to eventually achieve your qualifications as a fitness instructor and personal trainer?

When I became a fitness instructor I was so excited, I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life so I then enrolled in a personal training course some months later to further my knowledge.

Ben Calwell

And now onto the heart breaking moment when you were diagnosed with cancer shortly before your 19th birthday… Tell us what happened over those weeks.

I noticed a painful swelling in my neck accompanied by swollen tonsils. After a couple of trips to the doctors and infections were ruled out they decided to remove my tonsils. A few weeks later my neck swelling still had not gone down so I made another trip to the doctors in which they sent me for a scan. I then went on holiday with a few friends not thinking much about it and just ignoring the pain however when I got home the pain had got very intense so I ended up booking a private appointment in order to get my scan results back quicker and get my pain sorted. At this appointment I remember being told the words cancer and it just didn’t sink in.

How did it feel when you received the diagnosis that it was cancer?

The first question I asked the doctor is “am I going to die,” in which he replied “I can’t answer that until we get further scans and tests done that can take up to two weeks.” I ended up going to work that evening as it just didn’t sink in. I got home from work, went to bed and just cried in fear.

Tell us about your chemo and radiotherapy sessions. How did your body handle such intensive rounds of treatment?

I had my first chemo session the day after my 19th Birthday, I was very sick the next couple of days but was allowed out of hospital. Every 3 weeks for 9 weeks I received chemo and each one got worse to the point where I vomited at the sight of the brown bag.  After the 9 weeks I was skinny, pale and very ill but thankfully still at home, I then went for my next bout of treatment which consisted of chemo and radiotherapy at the same time.

This is where things got very tough. I couldn’t eat, drink or even get out of bed without throwing up and at this point I was hospitalised. They stopped my chemo treatment earlier than planned as they thought it would end up doing more bad than good as I was just too weak to handle it. 30 days of radiation to the head and neck left me badly burned and but thankfully the morphine drowned out the pain. It was horrible.

Ben Calwell

What was your life like during this time of limbo? It must have been a really scary situation for you!

My life was horrible and I was scared but the doctors were telling me how I was getting better which made me feel better. I just couldn’t wait to get home and back to normality.

BUT, let's move on to the better side of this story - how did it feel to finally get out of hospital in January 2013?

I felt weak and exhausted but I was so happy to be home. I was ready to try and get better as although all treatment was over, I really was in an awful state. I had no energy and knew it was going to be a long road ahead.

What did you do in the months leading up to September 2013, when you returned to the gym?

I went on holiday with a few friends that summer. I was starting to feel a bit healthier and bit more recovered but I was still under 9 stone at this point. I got my supplements ready and my training/diet plans also in order to start adding some mass.

But then we hit another road bump - tell me about your diet at the time, what happened at the blood test you took, and how it made you feel?

I noticed I was adding weight but it didn’t seem to be good muscle mass. I felt I was adding more fat than normal so I went to the doctor who ordered a blood test and a few days later I was diagnosed with Hypothyroid. This condition made it very difficult to stay lean or add lean mass but with the right medication and diet I was successful during a bulk and cut.

How much more difficult did it get to stay lean and manage your weight with hypothyroid?

It’s very difficult to stay lean and manage my weight with hypothyroid but I am medicated for the condition but even this is not just enough. I need to be extremely strict if I want to look good.

Ben Calwell

Let's go into the specifics of that diet to stay lean... If we were to raid your kitchen right now, what would we see in your cupboards and fridge?

You would see a lot of different foods. Healthy and not so healthy. I live with my parents still so its mixed foods although the top shelf of the fridge is mine and if you looked there you would always find cooked chicken, plenty of fresh greens, some steak, eggs, bacon and cottage cheese which are all staples of my diet. The cupboards would always have porridge oats, tuna and sometimes rice krispies. When I’m not being as strict you may find the odd junk item in there too.

Any particular favourite meals?

A favourite meal would be bacon medallions and cottage cheese but definitely love a good pizza in which I’m eager to try muscle foods pizzas.

And any dinners you really don't look forward to?

I definitely don’t enjoy dry meals with no sauce or plain meals like chicken and rice but sometimes it just has to be done.

Has there ever been a time that you've fallen off the wagon in terms of your strict eating and fitness plan? And if so, how did you get yourself back on it?

When I’m strict for example for my photo shoot I did not fall off the wagon once, no cheat meals or anything as I didn’t want to hinder progress. It can be very difficult however to stay lean year round and regularly I do fall off the wagon but I usually take this as a cheat meal, enjoy a nice dinner out or something that I’m craving and then get myself back on it.

Speaking about fitness, what are your favourite exercises?

Favourite exercises are definitely squats and deadlifts. They use so much energy but you feel like you’re really doing something worthwhile and they hit so many muscle groups.

And is there a particular exercise you hate?

With all exercises I feel it’s a love hate relationship. You should be training hard enough that you hate it but the changes in your body shape and progress made makes you love it.

Ben Calwell

How did it feel to step onto your first fitness competition stage after coming out of hospital?

I actually never made it to the stage even though that was my goal. I managed to get a hernia half way through my prep for the show which hindered my progress however between my coach and I we came up with a solution to keep me going until I reached photoshoot level.

Did you receive any words of inspiration that kept you going through the darkest of times?

Yes. I am a Christian and there was a Bible verse that really got me through a lot of tough times. Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. One other thing that really helped me on my fitness journey when I was struggling I got speaking to someone in amazing shape who I looked up to, who told me “if you want it bad enough, you will make it happen.”

Now you're a personal trainer and fitness competitor - what's next in the world of Ben Calwell? What are your plans?

Well as a trainer I want to continue to develop myself to work closer with clients who have gone through similar situations to me or other clients who are struggling with their own problems. I also want to work with all fitness levels and help people be where they want to be. As I never managed to compete when I planned to due to my hernia, it is now fixed and I hope next year is going to be the year I finally get on stage.

And finally, if you could give any words of advice or inspiration to our readers, what would they be?

If you want it bad enough, you can and will find a way. It’s a slow process but completely worth it.

Muscle Food Final Thoughts

Every story featured on Muscle Food outlines that you can enjoy many things in life, even the occasional Man V Food challenge - but they must be done so in moderation. A good diet and workout plan are essential. All stories, exercise routines and diet plans are provided by the customer and have not been checked by a nutritionist or doctor. Results may vary for different individuals.

Love this story? Tell us in the comments!